Small Million is a fervent Portland-based synth pop duo writing richly textured songs with impassioned lyrics and dark melodic hooks.
LA-transplant Ryan Linder was new to Portland and seeking a musical collaborator, but struck out in the wilds of Craigslist. A chance meeting at a dance club with Portland native Malachi Graham, a songwriter and vocalist, led to the formation of Small Million. They continually drive each other forward— Ryan, a perfectionist producer and composer, regularly stays up until 4 AM tweaking the tone on his analog synths and meticulously layering samples. He’s long been drawn to both richly emotional indie pop (Arcade Fire, Champs, First Aid Kit, Fleet Foxes) and creatively textured electronic music. Meanwhile Malachi takes bold charge of the vocals and lyrics for the project; with her background as a solo songwriter and Americana musician, she concentrates on lyrics that make you want to pay attention, compelling melodic hooks, and powerful vocal performances as influenced by her love of Neko Case, Kate Bush, and traditional country and Appalachian folk music.
Appropriately for a duo that met on the dance floor, Ryan and Malachi continually improve their collaborative waltz. They wrote their earliest songs by emailing voice memos back and forth, successfully striking on their collective voice with their first single Six Feet. Six Feet quickly drew attention when it was selected for the PDX Pop Now! Compilation in 2014, propelling the fledgling duo into live performances and immersing them in Portland’s spirited and rich independent music scene. They released their debut EP Before the Fall in 2016 and their follow-up, Young Fools EP, in October 2018. Portland Mercury writes that Young Fools “expands their scope with moodier melodies and lyrics that contemplate romance, isolation, and violence.” Small Million’s tracks have been featured on compilations by Tender Loving Empire, PDX Pop Now!, and Vortex Music Magazine. “In the sparse synths and deeply emotive vocals, the duo found a universal language in their shared love of melody and emotion.” —Willamette Week